Horse Talk with Simon Jackson: Top horse-racing tips and the latest news.
DISCOUNTED tickets to go racing are available at three of London’s closest racecourses where Sandown Park, Kempton Park, and Epsom Downs offer tickets from £5 to selected meetings in March and April.
The deals apply to national hunt and flat cards at three of the capital’s premier racecourses and comprise Imperial Cup Day at Sandown, the Investec Spring Meeting at Epsom and the Easter Family Fun Day at Kempton.
The offers commence with Imperial Cup Day on March 11 – the last Saturday before the Cheltenham Festival and where Sandown is offering grandstand tickets for £5 and premier tickets for £10. The discounted tickets can be booked until January 23.
The Sandown card, which will also be televised on ITV, is followed after racing by a Cheltenham Festival Preview where a limited number of tickets are available for an additional £4 and can be purchased online at the same time as booking entry tickets.
Meanwhile, tickets can be bought for £5 for Kempton Park’s Easter Family Fun Day on April 15, where along with the day’s racing on the all-weather, complimentary entertainment for children is offered.
Flat racing fans are catered for again when racing returns to Epsom Downs on April 26 for the Investec Spring Meeting were cut-price tickets are available for only £5 until midnight on January 23.
In other news relating to racecourses in London and the south east, multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls has expressed surprise at the proposed shock closure of Kempton Park for development as housing.
Speaking on his Betfair blog, Nicholls said: “The sight of jumping taking place at Kempton [last Saturday] was a timely reminder of what we will all miss if the Jockey Club succeeds in its plan to sell the course for housing.
“Like everyone else I have spoken to I was shocked when the news broke in midweek.
“I am confused, too, because at first it sounded as though the decision to build up to 3,000 houses on the track was a done deal.
But as the days have passed it has become clear that there is massive opposition to the plans in plenty of quarters including, crucially, the councillors on the local authorities who have the final say.
“Will building really take place, was a secret deal agreed behind closed doors before the announcement or could this be a white elephant? At this stage it is impossible to say.
“The Jockey Club insist they intend to use the proceeds of the sale to refurbish and upgrade Sandown, invest a fortune into jump racing and build a new all-weather track at Newmarket.
“We’ve been told that £100 million will be raised from the sale of Kempton yet that is balanced by the Jockey Club’s current debt of £115 million.
“Yet in the next breath their group chief executive Simon Bazalgette is promising an investment of £500 million in our sport over the next decade.
“That type of mega funding for jump racing from the bottom upwards sounds terrific to me but I surely cannot be the only one wondering where all this money is coming from.
“So at the moment I feel strongly that to have a balanced view I need to know a lot more detail about these startling proposals before making up my mind,” continued Nicholls who saddled Kauto star to win Kempton’s feature event, the King George VI Chase, five times.
“On a personal note I’ve enjoyed no end of good fortune at Kempton, a great jumping track where you know you will find better ground through the season more than at any other course in the country,” he said.
“It is a speed track that suits bold jumping, free running chasers, brilliant horses like Desert Orchid, Wayward Lad and Kauto Star who set the place alight every Christmas.
“I have had so many magical days at Kempton, some of the best of my career with lots of success including nine winners of King George V1 Chases, five of them by Kauto Star.
“So obviously I dread the thought of the doors at Kempton closing for the final time and hope it doesn’t happen.
And while I think all my King George winners would also have won the race at Sandown, because they stayed so well, I am not in favour of the proposal to switch the race there.
“Given the choice I’d move it to Ascot, a much more suitable venue from a racing point of view as it is an outstanding jumps track with excellent facilities and the necessary infrastructure to accommodate a large crowd.
“Just imagine around more than 30,000 jumping enthusiasts at Ascot on Boxing Day for the most important jumps race in mid-winter.
“That would be superb, much better than the race being held at Sandown which would be packed out with half that amount of people. Plus the fact that the ground is almost always bottomless there at that time of year.
“These are things that need to be seriously considered if Kempton is sold’’
Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.